Elder Wisdom: What A Tale Their Thoughts Could Tell

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Gordon Lightfoot (whose signature lyrics from If You Could Read My Mind are reflected in the post title) turns 75 this November, and Bob Dylan has said that when he listens to a Lightfoot song, he “wishes it would never end.” That’s pretty high praise from a fellow septuagenarian maestro. Perhaps this is because seasoned songwriters instinctively weave life’s essence and lessons into a succinct truth that resonates to the marrow with those who listen, and thus appeals across the decades to both original fans as they age, and to a new audience.

reverse mortgage newsThe same might be said of elders. There’s so much wisdom to be gleaned from older team members. Consider this recent ad on CraigsList.com, headlined, “Looking for a 72-year-old writer”:

“I’m looking for a few good writers between the ages of 70 and 74. Seeking contributions from geographical locations all over the United States from persons who were in high school during 1959. For details about my project please go to http://www.classof59.net. It is okay if someone younger writes a contribution that was obtained orally from a member of the high school class of 1959.”

What a lovely tribute to what has been labeled, “The Silent Generation.”

“It is not how old you are, but how you are old,” said Academy Award-winning actress Marie Dressler. We’re moving from a model that focuses on disease, disability and death to one of “passion, purpose, and participation,” which happens to be the tagline of COPA (Collaborative on Positive Aging), a new volunteer division of the Council on Aging in one California community.

At the initial COPA gathering, much of the guiding wisdom for how future meetings might be organized was provided by people in their 70s and 80s, such as: “To remain vital, we need a mix of social/learning/leisure/contribution.” How perfect a reminder to anyone who serves seniors — reverse mortgage professionals obviously included — that as people age they become not a group apart, but more of who they’ve been, with a blend of needs and desires to enrich and fulfill these later years.

Consider the Sun City Poms, Arizona cheerleaders whose minimum age requirement is 55, along with the requisite “dance skills of rhythm, agility, poise, energy, and showmanship for performing. Acrobatics and baton twirling are a plus.” Wow! These women are weaving their social, leisure, learning and contributing into a bountiful blessing for everyone.

In his brilliant essay on conscious aging, Rabon Delmore Saip, a presenter at the COPA meeting, quotes developmental psychologist Paul Baltes: “One of the great challenges of the 21st century will be to complete the architecture of the human life course.”

The seniors reverse mortgage professionals serve today are playing a vital role in constructing the future of humanity, as they (and we) reinvent what it means, and what it “looks like”, to be “old”.

Cookie-Baking Granny … Or Purple-haired Artist? Marketing to the Mature Home Owner / Part 3

In the Leave It to Beaver and My Three Sons era, grandmas wore aprons, baked mouth-watering cookies, and indulged their grandchildren in ways mom and dad would not. Grandpa might have been a bit gruff, but his grandchildren knew his arthritis was acting up, and he loved them even if he couldn’t run and toss a ball like dad. Had reverse mortgages existed back then, our grandparents probably wouldn’t have known what to do with them.

Welcome to the third millennium. Lillian, age 83, sports fuchsia-streaked hair and a dry wit. After lovingly nursing her husband through a long illness, followed by a grieving period, she’s now so busy she doesn’t have a lot of time to chat.

She’s creating charcoal portraits of the hospice staff that cared for her beloved during his final weeks. (Lillian only discovered her artistic talent at 70, when she enrolled with her daughter in an art class). She also tutors several high school students, and participates in a discussion group at the local college. She often eats meals out because she hasn’t time to shop, cook, and keep up with all her activities. Fortunately, she has the financial freedom to enjoy her unorthodox lifestyle, unfettered my monetary concerns.

Lillian is by no means unusual among today’s dynamic elders. (See previous post, Marketing to the Mature Home Owner / Part 2 . Though some seniors may still live as our grandparents did fifty years ago, many more are coming into their own late in life, taking up hobbies they’ve just discovered, like Lillian, or those laid aside while raising a family and working long hours. The calendar may call them “old,” but they’re still giving younger folks a run for their money, pun intended.

The best way to reach these reverse mortgage prospects? Remember that people don’t usually change dramatically just because they age; they simply become more of who they’ve always been. So in marketing reverse mortgages to 70-plus homeowners, appeal to their independence and interests, engage their intelligence, and you’ll be rewarded with a concomitant interest in reverse mortgages — and some wonderfully unique new clients.